The Old Nemesis

The clouds march slowly
Across the sky like an army of angels
White billowiness with gray severity
Moving toward the unknown
Beyond sight and sound

Tethered earthward by the world’s hum
That unknown refuses to buttress fragility,
Withholding affirmation,
Leaving resented vulnerability
To wear as a cloak against joy.

The stillness passes
Onward, outward, away
Always away
A distant hammer, or bird
Calling the quiet into the unseen

Scores of similar moments
Flash across memory.
Days when there was nothing
But the impossible.
Nights when the fear
Eclipsed light from soul.

All doors closed and the room contracted
Until each breath labored impotently
Against the hopelessness.
Here, that old nemesis, Doubt,
Stares back from the mirror
Launching each splinter of disappointment
As arrows against failing hope

Perhaps there is comfort
In his predictable appearance
The smooth edges of that offered crutch,
Given to rationalize weakness,
And a litany of excuses,
Explaining away the craven retreat of boldness

High atop the pine
A cardinal calls fearlessly,
Challenging the day,
With fiery plume and surety of flight
A steady defiance

“We are survivors,” he cries
“Live this day
In its sunshine, breeze, and possibility.
Make your mark upon the world,
Deferring to nothing
But your Creator,
And the beautiful purpose
For which He made you.”

From Traveler: A Poetic Journey
©Cross Stone Press and Phillip Berry 2021

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